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Foreign Affairs


JERUSALEM, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to support his call to halt Iran's expansion in the Middle East.

He made the remarks during his meeting with Merkel in Berlin, the first leg of his three-day trip to Europe.

Netanyahu said he will try to persuade European leaders of Germany, France and Britain to withdraw their support for the international nuclear deal with Iran and stop its effort to establish a military foothold in the Middle East.

"Iran is trying to conquer the Middle East," he said at a joint press conference in Berlin.

"It's doing so in Syria. It's doing so in Yemen. And it's doing so in other places," the hardline Israeli leader warned.

Iran is entrenching forces in Israel's northern neighbour Syria, "with the explicit goal of attacking us," Netanyahu said, adding that the Iranian military force has about 18,000 Shiite militants under command in Syria.

He warned that not curbing Iran's expansion might lead to another refugee crisis in Europe.

"Iran wants to increase the number of such militia to 80,000 and to basically conduct a religious campaign in largely Sunni Syria. This will inflame another religious war," Netanyahu said.

"The consequences would be many, many more refugees and you know exactly where they'll head to," he told Merkel.

While describing Iran's influence as "a cause for concern," Merkel reaffirmed Europe's support to the landmark 2015 agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"Germany did not cancel this agreement. Together with other European partners, we stand by it," she said.

In late April, Netanyahu disclosed files allegedly obtained by Israel's intelligence from Iran's "secret nuclear archive," saying the files prove Iran's secret development of nuclear weapons.

But nuclear experts said the files do not prove Iran's breach of the nuke deal.

Netanyahu has long been lobbying against the nuclear deal. Recently he found the new ally U.S. President Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in May.

Netanyahu will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday, and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.--NNN-XINHUA


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